7 Seconds (song)

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"7 Seconds"
7 seconds.jpg
Single by Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry
from the album The Guide (Wommat)
B-side"Mame Bamba"
Released16 May 1994
StudioPower Play (New York)
Length5:07
LabelColumbia
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Youssou N'Dour singles chronology
"Shaking the Tree"
(1989)
"7 Seconds"
(1994)
"So Many Men"
(2002)
Neneh Cherry singles chronology
"Buddy X"
(1993)
"7 Seconds"
(1994)
"Love Can Build a Bridge"
(1995)
Music video
"7 Seconds" on YouTube

"7 Seconds" is a song composed by Youssou N'Dour, Neneh Cherry, Cameron McVey, and Jonathan Sharp. It was released in 1994 as a single performed by N'Dour and Cherry, and achieved success, reaching the number-one position in numerous countries; in France, it stayed at number one for 16 weeks, a record at the time. "7 Seconds" also won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song of 1994.[2] NME magazine ranked it number 40 in their list of the 50 best songs of 1994.[3]

Recording[edit]

All instruments on the single were produced and arranged by Swedish music producer Christian Falk, who also played bass on the track.[1] It was included on Neneh Cherry's album Man (1996). The song is trilingual as N'Dour sings in three languages: French, English and the West African language Wolof. Cherry sings only in English.[4] The English chorus was actually recorded by another singer as Youssou was ill during the production of the song. It also appeared on N'Dour's 1994 album The Guide (Wommat), released shortly after the single.

The title and refrain of the song refers to the first moments of a child's life; as Cherry put it, "not knowing about the problems and violence in our world".[4] Shocked by the single's enormous commercial success, she told The Independent in an interview, "We did it as an experiment. The tune grew on its own, completely out of proportion. It was out there doing its own thing. But that is a dream when you write a song."[5]

Critical reception[edit]

A reviewer from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet described the song as a "floating airy and heavenly beautiful synth ballad".[6] Peter Stepek from AllMusic called it a "vaguely menacing duet".[7] Larry Flick from Billboard said it is "unique and thoroughly pleasing", adding that "haunting tune is padded with cushiony synths and a richly soulful bass line. Cherry offers a sweet and charming contrast to N'Dour's gritty vocal."[8] Troy J. Augusto from Cashbox wrote that the "compelling duet nicely swirls N'Dour’s husky vocals and Cherry's sweet, angelic voice into a nifty, down-tempo stroll that has broad radio potential." He added further that it is "powered by a rolling bass line and layers of passive synthesizer strains".[9]

Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report viewed the song as "music to stir the senses combined with lyrics that make a powerful case for our common humanity." He noted that it "is especially powerful in light of recent events in South Africa and it's made that much more riveting by the melding of these two voices. Its worth spending some time with this amazing track."[10] James Masterton deemed it a "gorgeous ballad" in his weekly UK chart commentary.[11] Pan-European magazine Music & Media complimented Cherry as "again brilliant", and also complimented the song as "melodic, synthy, sexy and with a slow beat."[12] Wendi Cermak from The Network Forty described it as "haunting".[13] Dele Fadele from NME opined that it "makes like a future African sci-fi rumination on colour prejudice, with Yossou N'Dour's beguiling tones on show."[14] David Sinclair from The Times wrote, "Built around a gentle boombox beat overlaid by drifting synthesizer chords, the song achieves the same seductive combination of rhythm and rumination that informed Bruce Springsteen's recent hit "Streets Of Philadelphia"."[15]

Chart performance[edit]

"7 Seconds" was a worldwide hit, peaking within the top 10 of the charts in several countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands (number two), Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It climbed to the top position in Finland, France, Iceland, Italy and Switzerland. It stayed at number one for 16 consecutive weeks on the French Singles Chart,[16] which was the record for the most weeks at the top position at the time. On the Eurochart Hot 100, the song reached number two. It was awarded with a gold record in Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Music video[edit]

The accompanying black-and-white music video for "7 Seconds" was directed by French director, photographer, film producer and actor Stéphane Sednaoui.[17][18] It features people of different ethnicities walking by while the two are singing. When they sing the chorus, different kinds of people's faces appear.

Impact and legacy[edit]

NME magazine ranked "7 Seconds" number 40 in their list of the 50 best songs of 1994.[19] It was included in the 2010 book 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Eloise Parker remarked that "the soul of '7 seconds' is N'Dour's heartfelt vocals, sung in Wolof and French, enhanced by Cherry's haunting English-language chorus."[20]

Formats and track listings[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Sales certifications for 7 Seconds
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[56] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[57] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[58] Gold 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[59] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[60] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[61] Platinum 10,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[62] Gold 25,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[63] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[65] Gold 420,000[64]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Christian Falk. "Christian Falk", Sommar & Vinter i P1, 26 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  2. ^ Pride, Dominic (5 November 1994), "Brandenburg Gate Setting For First MTV Euro Awards", Billboard, vol. 106, no. 45, p. 10.
  3. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Bio" (unofficial website). Neneh Cherry Online (NCO). Archived from the original on 25 October 2005. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2010]. "10,001 Songs You Must Hear…". 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-84403-684-4.
  6. ^ Aftonbladet. 21 May 1994.
  7. ^ Stepek, Peter. "Youssou N'Dour – Guide (Wommat)". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  8. ^ Flick, Larry (25 June 1994). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 89. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  9. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (2 July 1994). "Pop Singles: Reviews" (PDF). Cashbox. p. 7. Retrieved 23 January 2020.
  10. ^ Sholin, Dave (17 June 1994). "Gavin Picks: Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. p. 62. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  11. ^ Masterton, James (7 August 1994). "Week Ending August 13th 1994". Chart Watch UK. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  12. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 14 May 1994. p. 10. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  13. ^ Cermak, Wendi (25 March 1994). "Crossover: Music Meeting" (PDF). The Network Forty. p. 34. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  14. ^ Fadele, Dele. "NENEH CHERRY – Man". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  15. ^ Sinclair, David (25 June 1994). "Pop Singles; Recordings". The Times.
  16. ^ a b "Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  17. ^ "mvdbase.com – Youssou N'Dour – '7 seconds [version 1]'". Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry: 7 Seconds (1994)". IMDb.
  19. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. Retrieved 4 May 2021.
  20. ^ Dimery, Robert, ed. (2011) [2010]. "10,001 Songs You Must Hear…". 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die. Octopus Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1-84403-684-4.
  21. ^ "Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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  27. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media Inc. 29 October 1994. p. 58.
  28. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
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  30. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (21.07.1994 - 27.07.1994)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 21 July 1994. p. 16. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
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  32. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 11, no. 38. 17 September 1994. p. 16. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
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  41. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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  46. ^ "1994 in Review – Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. 24 December 1994. p. 24. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  47. ^ "Tops de L'année | Top Singles 1994" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  48. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1994" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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  50. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40: Single top 100 over 1994" (PDF) (in Dutch). Retrieved 12 July 2009.
  51. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1994" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
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  54. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1994" (in German). Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  55. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1994". Music Week. 14 January 1995. p. 9.
  56. ^ "The ARIA Report – Australian Top 100 Singles 1994 – No. 29". Australian Recording Industry Association. Imgur. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  57. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Youssou N´Dour + Neneh Cherry – Seven Seconds (Single)" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  58. ^ "French single certifications – Youssou'n Dour – 7 Seconds" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  59. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry; '7 Seconds')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  60. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Youssou n'Dour – Seven Seconds" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 5 June 2021. Enter Seven Seconds in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  61. ^ Scapolo, Dean (2007). The Complete New Zealand Music Charts: 1966–2006. Maurienne House. ISBN 978-1-877443-00-8.
  62. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  63. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Yousou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry; '7 Seconds')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  64. ^ Myers, Justin (5 September 2014). "Number 1 today in 1994: Wet Wet Wet see off Kylie's comeback". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  65. ^ "British single certifications – Youssou N'dour Ft Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 5 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]